Malachi Throne, the man who played Commodore Jose Mendez in the original “Star Trek” episodes “The Menagerie” died last week following complications of lung cancer.
He was 84.
Throne, who had already established himself as a character actor when he appeared on the original science-fiction series in 1966, helped NBC and Desilu Pictures make back some of their money in television’s first failed pilot that earned a show a second chance. “The Menagerie” was actually a two-part envelope episode for “The Cage,” which was the original “Star Trek” pilot starring Jeffrey Hunter and Leonard Nimoy.
Throne played Mendez, the commander of a space station where Hunter’s character of Capt. Christopher Pike (this time played by Sean Kenney) was severely injured, and then kidnapped by Nimoy’s Spock. Mendez would lead the court martial that tried Nimoy in the kidnapping and the theft of the USS Enterprise.
Those two episodes would not be Throne’s last foray into Trekdom. He would later take on the role of Romulan Sen. Pardek in the two-part “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “Unification” in 1991. Those episodes also featured Nimoy, who reprised his role as Spock, trying to bring Vulcan and Romulus back together in what would later lead story-wise to J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” in 2009.
“Unification” was the first episode of TNG (after “The Game”) that aired following the death of Gene Roddenberry in October 1991, getting a memorial title card for the series creator.
Throne also appeared in other genre shows including “The Outer Limits” in 1964, “Batman” in 1966, “Lost In Space” in 1966, “The Six Million Dollar Man” in 1975, and “Babylon 5” in 1995.
Malachi Throne was born Dec. 1, 1928 in New York City. He began his stage career at the age of 10 in a local production featuring Huckleberry Finn.
Throne said that Roddenberry considered him for a regular role in “Star Trek” right from the beginning, especially after he voiced the aliens in “The Cage” (which had to be electronically altered in “The Menagerie” so that viewers didn’t get confused). He once told a reporter that he wanted to play Spock, but Roddenberry had already decided on Nimoy. Instead, Roddenberry later offered him the role of Dr. McCoy, but Throne said he turned it down because he was afraid of being the “third man through the door” behind Kirk and Spock.
That role, of course, later went to DeForest Kelley, who died in 1999.
Throne is survived by his wife of 20 years, Marjorie Throne.